Author Archive

Feb 12

A Step Forward

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 12:01 AM

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Less than two years after becoming the first African American commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, Ensign John W. Lee stands at his battle station on board the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge, his wish to serve in a large combatant ship granted. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

On 15 March 1947, one month to the day before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in baseball’s major leagues, John Wesley Lee Jr. became the first African American to be commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, that is, no longer a reservist. Many citizens of this country made it clear that they did not welcome Robinson’s arrival in baseball. He received numerous death threats and other pieces of hate mail. John Lee achieved his milestone without encountering hostility, and that was at least in part the result of how the Navy arranged things for him. After… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 16

ACTION REPORT: HMAS Australia off Luzon

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:38 AM

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The heavy cruiser HMAS Australia in late August 1942. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In October 1944 near the Philippine island of Leyte, Japan unleashed a powerful, unforeseen weapon against enemy warships—the kamikaze. During the next few months, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, received more than her share of attention from the deadly suicide planes. According to Australian sources, the cruiser became the first Allied ship hit by a kamikaze when on 21 October a D3A “Val” bomber struck her foremast, killing 7 officers—including her commanding officer—and 23 sailors. (Other sources deny the attack was a preplanned suicide attack.) That was just a taste of what was in store for the Australia during the January 1945 operation… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 17

The Making of a Naval Disaster

Thursday, May 17, 2018 12:01 AM

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The Peloponnesian War Battle of Syracuse, 413 B.C. (Alamy)

The Peloponnesian War of 431–404 B.C. between the Spartan-led Peloponnesian alliance and the Delian League dominated by Athens was a seminal event in naval history. The nature of the conflict itself practically guaranteed that maritime control would be a critical factor, as neither of the two major power blocs had the means to launch a decisive assault on the other’s homeland and were forced into a long series of peripheral actions in an attempt to wear the other side out. The great Athenian statesman Pericles openly and explicitly built Athenian military strategy around protecting and using the Athenian navy to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 13

USCG Helos to the Rescue (Part 3)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 10:13 AM

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2a

On 15 February1943, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King assigned responsibility for sea-going development of helicopters to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has proven time and time again that the helicopter is a unique instrument for the saving of human lives.” Here are some of the important missions flown by the service’s helicopters. ‘Yes, I Can’ The first life-saving mission by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer took place on 10 December 1987. At 1936 the Bluebird, a 26-foot fishing vessel requested assistance. The duty helicopter crew at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, Alaska, quickly boarded HH–3F… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 20

USCG Helos to the Rescue (Part 2)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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HH-52A

On 15 February1943, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King assigned responsibility for sea-going development of helicopters to the U.S. Coast Guard. The first helicopter to enter the Navy’s inventory, an HNS-1, was tested and accepted by naval aviation’s first designated helicopter pilot, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Frank Erickson, at Bridgeport, Connecticut on 16 October 1943. This was the beginning of a 74-year journey featuring man’s ingenuity, skill, and daring as industry and technology constantly improved rotary-wing aircraft.

 
Feb 8

A Deeper Dive into Hell to Pay

Thursday, February 8, 2018 12:01 AM

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9781682471654

In 2009, D. M. Giangreco’s award-winning book Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945–1947 was published by the Naval Institute Press. We recently spoke with Mr. Giangreco about his latest book—a revised and expanded edition of Hell to Pay (Naval Institute Press, 2017). Naval History: Tell us about the expanded edition of Hell to Pay. D. M. Giangreco: The new Hell to Pay expands on several areas examined in the previous book and deals with three new topics: U.S.-Soviet cooperation in the war against imperial Japan; U.S., Soviet, and Japanese plans for the invasion and defense… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 13

USCG Helos to the Rescue (Part 1)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:52 PM

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In 1943, U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pioneer Commander Frank Erickson was named the commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn, New York.

On 15 February 1943, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King assigned responsibility for sea-going development of helicopters to the U.S. Coast Guard. Admiral King quickly realized the helicopter’s unique capabilities were a way to increase maritime security during World War II. The first helicopter to enter the Navy’s inventory, an HNS-1, was tested and accepted by naval aviation’s first designated helicopter pilot, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Frank Erickson, at Bridgeport, Connecticut on 16 October 1943. Ericson had brought his trusted lead helicopter mechanic, Aviation Machinist’s Mate Oliver Perry along with him to inspect the aircraft and sit in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 23

The Original Arnold Horshack

Friday, June 23, 2017 10:20 AM

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Swift boats head up the Giant Thanh River along the South Vietnam–Cambodia border toward night ambush spots.

The following is adapted from Swift Boats at War in Vietnam (Stackpole, 2017), edited by Guy Gugliotta, John Yeoman, and Neva Sullaway. Swift Boats (patrol boat fast, or PCFs) at the beginning of 1970 appeared to be in reasonable control of their war. Operation SEALORDS had cleared large swatches of the Lower Mekong Delta, forcing the enemy to withdraw to strongholds deep in the forest. Firefights and ambushes had declined, and civilians could move about the region with relative ease. SeaFloat, the Navy’s floating base in the Cua Lon Estuary, was a resounding success, fostering the growth of a substantial… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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